Coming out Tuesday March 29, 2022
From the author of Sing Me Forgotten comes a lush new fantasy novel with an art-based magic system, romance, and murder…
Myra has a gift many would kidnap, blackmail, and worse to control: she’s a portrait artist whose paintings alter people’s bodies. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone. But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son.
Once she arrives at the legendary stone mansion, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. A killer stalks these halls–one disturbingly obsessed with portrait magic. Desperate to get out of the manor as quickly as possible, Myra turns to the governor’s older son for help completing the painting before the secret she spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
A Forgery of Roses by Jessica Olson is a gothic atmospheric mystery set in a creative magical fantasy world with a cast of flawed and relatable characters who will grab your heart and never let go.
What I Enjoyed:
The magic system and world-building is my favorite aspect of A Forgery of Roses. This world calls its creator the Artist, and magic comes through Protegies who can paint things into being. It’s a magic system that seems simple on the surface but is a very complex and nuanced system that requires a great deal from the wielder of the magic. It takes intelligence and knowledge of how things work to the most minor details. And, the spell can have serious repercussions, so you have to be careful how and on whom you use it. Protegies are not well thought of due to fear in the general population. I think that is very relatable since these rare individuals have the creator’s power, and that kind of power is always going to be feared.
Chronic illness and mental health disabilities are covered in a loving, empathetic manner that provides a compelling message. Myra’s sister living with an unknown affliction (chronic disease) and August dealing with anxiety provide such moving plot threads and add interest to an already mesmerizing world. The social ramifications of being ill as someone lower on the socio-economic strata versus someone on the upper end are compelling and relevant. Lucy and Myra lost their parents and have lived in poverty ever since. Myra can barely afford the roof over their head, and just the bare minimum of food makes medical care a luxury they can’t afford. August is from a powerful, affluent family that hides him and thus his disability from the rest of the world. The way these two realities impact Lucy and August and the handling of their disability says so much about the state of care in this world and ours.
The mystery is complex, shocking, and completely unpredictable. I loved that the story is gothic in tone and imagery as it gave the story an atmospheric and ominousness that is pervasive and fear-inducing. I couldn’t have even begun to puzzle out the mystery, it is that complex, yet all the clues are there staring you in the face. The suspense keeps the pace up to a nice clip, and the first-person narration gives A forgery of Roses just the right amount of that personal touch to keep the reader invested from start to finish.
Myra is the main character and narrator of the story. Her loyalty to her sister is heartwarming and juxtaposes nicely to the direness of their situation. Myra’s determination is tireless, and her skills are awe-inspiring. I couldn’t help but feel her plight deep down as the story unfolds.
The support characters are also well-developed, each with their flaws and challenges that dominate the page whenever they are on it.
A Forgery of Roses has a strong plot but is arguably character-driven with a cast of characters who are up to the challenge of leading this tale.
Reminds Me Of:
There is a Jack the Ripper vibe that runs through this story. It’s easy to imagine the nights being dark and foggy as the characters carefully navigate cobblestone paths.
What I Wish:
My only wish is that the story had not taken on an insta-love plot thread. The relationship never felt quite right to me and thus did not capture my heart as I hoped.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you love glorious fantasy worlds with original magic systems and dark, thrilling mysteries intrigue you, A Forgery of Roses will give you all of that and more.
Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her four wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. She is the author of Sing Me Forgotten (2021) and A Forgery of Roses (2022).
- Author website: https://www.jessicasolson.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessicaolson123
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicaolson123/?hl=en
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19475731.Jessica_S_Olson